Minister of Health, Dr. Cornelius de Weever recently returned from the 7th World Health Tourism Congress in Durban, South Africa where he was introduced to the various aspects that medical tourism has to offer. Minister de Weever was invited to take part in the forum by the congress organizers Aura International and Grand Aurum Marketing under the patronage and support of the Kwazulu Natal Government. Also attending the congress was member of parliament Patrick Illidge.
The congress officially opened on October 15, 2011 and ended on October 17, 2011. The minister was introduced to such topics as health tourism, investment in health tourism, and was able to attend sessions with industry representatives.
According to the World Health Tourism Congress, medical tourism or health tourism is an emerging field which has to do with patients from countries with expensive medical systems seeking treatment for their ailments in countries that offer the combination of lower cost treatment along with quality medical care.
Minister de Weever stated that this event provided great exposure for St. Maarten because I was asked to introduce St. Maarten to the entire congress. I was able to give a speech about St. Maarten’s need to develop medical tourism before showing a two minute promotional video of St. Maarten. During the break I was approached by many tour companies and individuals interested in the St. Maarten product. The organizers are considering to hold one of their upcoming medical tourism congresses in St. Maarten. This would be a great opportunity for St. Maarten and an example of medical tourism.
Countries represented at the congress included the United States of America, Belgium, Nigeria, and Thailand amongst others. St. Maarten was the only Caribbean country in attendance at the congress. This congress has been hosted in the past by Germany, Cyprus, Philippines, Spain and now South Africa.